Mahan: The Life and Work of Captain Alfred Thayer Mahan, U.S.N.

By W. D. Puleston | Go to book overview

Chapter XXXII "Types of Naval Officers"

WHILE Mahan was watching with keen interest the final outcome of the Boer War, the Boxer Rebellion, the formation of the Anglo-Japanese Alliance, and the tightening of the two great European alignments, he received many requests to interpret these events. His writing in the American press on the struggle for South Africa had attracted the attention of Leo Maxse, editor of the British National Review, and in midsummer, 1901, Maxse invited him to discuss "The Influence of the South African War upon the Prestige of the British Empire." This was Mahan's first contribution to a foreign periodical on a current problem, He had refused several previous requests from English publishers, for his primary purpose in life was to shape the ideas of his own people, and he was afraid he would lose whatever influence he might have with them if he did not confine the bulk of his writing to American publications. By the summer of 1901, however, he had created his niche in American periodicals, He had contributed from time to time to the Atlantic Monthly, Forum, North American Review, Century Magazine, "Harper's Monthly", McClure's Magazine, and the Independent, and was preparing a contribution to Scribner's. Within a decade of the appearance of his first book on sea power, he felt confident of his ability to present his views on current subjects to his own people, and more than hopeful that they would be effective with public opinion. Under such circumstances he believed he could accept Maxse's offer.

In October, 1901, Mahan added two other illustrious names, Hawke and Rodney, to the short biographies he had been doing for the Atlantic, and published the series

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